By Alan Duke, CNN
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Justin Bieber dragged his date on stage with him to accept the American Music Awards artist of the year honor Sunday night.
It was his mom.
“I want to thank you for just always believing in me,” the 18-year-old singer said, looking into his mother’s eyes.
Bieber was the biggest winner at the 40th annual American Music Awards, winning artist of the year, favorite pop/rock artist and favorite pop/rock album.
Carly Rae Jepsen, who won new artist of the year, introduced Bieber as the “current generation’s biggest superstar.”
Bieber used one of his acceptance speeches to address “all the haters who thought that, you know, that maybe I was just here for one or two years.”
“I feel like I’m going to be here for a very long time,” he said.
Missing from the three-hour show in Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater was its originator Dick Clark, who was remembered in a musical tribute performed by Stevie Wonder. Clark, known as “America’s oldest teenager” died April 18 at the age of 82.
“This show, on its 40th anniversary, still reflects Dick’s original vision,” host Ryan Seacrest, a Clark protégé, told the audience.
“Bring the top artists on the planet together on an equal stage and then let the music speak for itself.”
It was, perhaps, that inspiration that produced of the show’s most energetic moments: South Korean rapper Psy’s collaboration with MC Hammer in a dance medley to a mash-up of Psy’s online viral hit “Gangnam Style” and Hammer’s 1991 sensation “Too Legit to Quit.”
“That was so awesome,” Psy told CNN backstage after the show. “We experienced miracle tonight.”
Hammer, who triggered a dance craze in the early 1990s, said he and Psy are “kindred spirits” and they may work together again. “He’s got the whole world dancing,” he said, comparing Psy to James Brown, Michael Jackson and himself.
Nicki Minaj, who performed twice, walked away with two honors, including favorite rap/hip hop artist and favorite rap/hip hop album.
“Man, I been did dat,” Minaj said as she accepted the artist award, referencing her win in the same category last year. “Man, I been popped out.”
Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” was chosen favorite country album. All four albums Underwood has released have won the honor.
“I couldn’t love my life anymore than I do right now,” she said.
Luke Bryan, who won favorite country male artist, used his first AMA acceptance speech to thank his sons “Tater Bug and Bobo.”
Taylor Swift won favorite country music female artist, her 11th AMA trophy.
Electronic dance music — known as EDM — was added as a category this year. The first award was bestowed on David Guetta.
Other winners included Katie Perry for favorite pop/rock female artist; Maroon 5 for favorite pop/rock band, duo or group; Lady Antebellum for favorite country music band, duo or group; Usher for favorite soul/R&B male artist; Beyonce for favorite soul/R&B female artist; Rihanna for favorite soul/R&B album; Linkin Park for favorite alternative rock artist; Adele for favorite adult contemporary artist; Shakira for favorite Latin music artist; and tobyMac for favorite contemporary inspirational artist.
Among the 18 performances, one of the more noteworthy was Pink’s delivery of “Try” — a song about domestic abuse — as an acrobatic ballet.
– CNN’s Denise Quan contributed to this report.